“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
If you sin, it will always result in suffering. There is an eternal consequence to disobeying God. The Bible tells us that without Jesus, the price for sin is death. Jesus paid that price and grants eternal life to those who place their faith in Him. But there is a second layer of consequence to sin and that is the suffering we endure for our sin here on earth. When we sin, when we do wrong, we will suffer the consequences.
Suffering, though, is not always the result of sin. There will be suffering you endure in your life that has no sin attached to it. Not everything bad that happens to you is because of something you did to disobey God. Sin always results in suffering, but suffering is not always the result of sin.
In the book of Genesis, chapters 37-50, you’ll find the story of Joseph. Joseph suffered because of the sin of others. His brothers hated him, sold him down the river, and told his dad he was dead. Years of suffering for Joseph ensued. He did nothing to deserve it and it wasn’t fair. But his suffering had a purpose. Throughout his ordeal Joseph continued to follow God. He was truthful, avoided temptation, and did the right thing, even when it got him in trouble. For all of his good works, he ended up in prison.
But God had a bigger plan. In the end, Joseph became the assistant to a king, was reunited with his family, saved a nation from starvation and saved those in surrounding nations as well. Joseph had no idea of any of this when he stood in a dirt pit being sold off to foreigners by jealous members of his own family. But God knew exactly what He was doing.
When you suffer, ask yourself, “What is God doing here?” Perhaps your suffering is the result of sin. But perhaps God is using your situation to teach you, strengthen you, to prepare you for something that is coming, or to be an example to those around you. Suffering is difficult, but it can also be an opportunity to grow in your faith and in obedience to the Word of God. Just like Joseph, God may have a bigger plan.
God, help me to see suffering not as punishment, but as an opportunity to learn. When I suffer, help me to continue to put my trust in You, and to listen to You for what you may be teaching me or preparing me for. When I suffer, help me to be an example to those around me of a faithful follower of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.